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THE TRAVELLER fared slowly on his way, who fared towards
Paris from England in the autumn of the year one thousand seven
hundred and ninety-two.

More than enough of bad roads, bad equipages, and bad horses, he
would have encountered to delay him, though the fallen and
unfortunate King of France had been upon his throne in all his
glory; but, the changed times were fraught with other obstacles
than these. Every town-gate and village taxing-house had its band
of citizen-patriots, with their national muskets in a most explosive
state of readiness, who stopped all comers and goers, cross-
questioned them, inspected their papers, looked for their names in
lists of their own, turned them back, or sent them on, or stopped
them and laid them in hold, as their capricious judgment or fancy
deemed best for the dawning Republic One and Indivisible, of
Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, or Death.

A very few French leagues of his journey were accomplished,
when Charles Darnay began to perceive that for him along these
country roads there was no hope of return until he should have
been declared a good citizen at Paris. Whatever might befall now,
he must on to his journey’s end. Not a mean village closed upon
him, not a common barrier dropped across the road behind him,
but he knew it to be another iron door in the series that was barred
between him and England. The universal watchfulness so
encompassed him, that if he had been taken in a net, or were being
forwarded to his destination in a cage, he could not have felt his
freedom more completely gone.

This universal watchfulness not only stopped him on the highway
twenty times in a stage, but retarded his progress twenty times in a
day, by riding after him and taking him back, riding before him
and stopping him by anticipation, riding with him and keeping
him in charge. He had been days upon his journey in France alone,
when he went to bed tired out, in a little town on the high road,
still a long way from Paris.

Nothing but the production of the afflicted Gabelle’s letter from his
prison of the Abbaye would have got him on so far. His difficulty
at the guard-house in this small place had been such, that he felt
his journey to have come to a crisis. And he was, therefore, as little
surprised as a man could be, to find himself awakened at the small
inn to which he had been remitted until morning, in the middle of
the night.
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